Wrong Path?

This post I decided to dedicate to the topic of people in my life making poor financial decisions.

Situation 1

One of my friends recently moved from out of state to the DFW area. She has been looking for work for the past few months. Thanks to her connections, she will likely be getting a well paying job within the next few months. The couple took out a 401(k) loan that they plan to pay back over the next few months. Without the 401(k) money as a resource they would be on seriously shaky financial ground. Flash forward to today, they just moved into a luxury apartment for the rent is $1300 dollars per month (my apt is a comparable size, in a slightly less desirable location but still 5 minutes away and $773). Eventually they plan on purchasing a house, but today she doesn’t have a job and for all intents and purposes he doesn’t have a job.

A few years ago they owned a home in another state that went through a short sale because of the downturn in the real estate market. For as long as I’ve known them the husband has not had a full-time job to help support his wife, instead he chose to pursue his passion for theology which doesn’t really pay well and he earns nothing from. I think most people would have a come to Jesus moment where they would work a job that is not ideal but helps their family hit their financial goals. This has not been the case.

The wife is also providing financial assistance to her parents and brother. My guess is this has amounted to over $100k over the past decade. It’s very noble that she’s cares so much about her family, but I don’t think she is concerned enough about herself.

It’s not my place to cast judgment on my friends, but I wish I was able to impart wisdom on them. They haven’t realized it now but I think they’re setting themselves up for financial failure in the long run. looking at the power of compounding, the importance of having a sizable nest egg and not living beyond your means, They’re failing on multiple counts. On the bright side I think she will be back on target in the next 2-3 years. I have tried to help the husband with finding a job but haven’t been so successful at that. He doesn’t seem very motivated and I can’t force someone to be driven. Sure I believe in the power of faith but also that god allows us to help ourselves.

Situation 2

One of my other friends recently confided in me she has over $120,000 dollars in student loan debt. At what interest rates you might ask? Between 5-9%. Currently she is on the income-based repayment plan, commonly referred to as IBR. She quit her stressful corporate job and instead works as a babysitter. Although she’s well paid for what she does, she’s making minimum payments on her loans while interest accrues. Combined she and her husband grossed over $100k last year. Gross vs net though, two very different things.

Let’s look at a compounding. Starting out with a $120k balance and paying $300/mo. I don’t know exactly how much she pays but it’s probably less than that. I used this calculator so no idea how accurate the numbers really are.
Year 1 : $127,505
Year 2 : $135,713
Year 3 : $144,692
Year 4 : $154,512
Year 5 : $165,254
Year 6 : $177,004
Year 7 : $189,856
Year 8 : $203,914
Year 9 : $219,290
Year 10 : $236,109

Luckily in her case she is set to inherit 2 houses in the US and another in another country. Down to road she could sell those and be student free. Not everyone has this luxury and what does that leave her with? An underfunded retirement plan, no real estate and probably some hefty tax bills. She’s given up hope and is just paying what she can for now.

My father died with serious debt. Over $50k as I recall, mostly from medical expenses. I wasn’t blessed with a silver spoon in my mouth. I’m not perfect. I love my friends and family and wish the best for them. Seeing my father poor from the age of 2 up until I was 20 left a lasting impression on me. He didn’t have any much control over his situation, due to his renal failure. As long as I am able to I’m gonna fight damn hard to learn from all of this. To do otherwise would just be plain ignorant Life is more than money, but a few poor decisions can haunt us for a lifetime.

32 – Reflections on Life

So currently my blog is called Debt Free 32 – ONE MAN’S MISSION TO GET RID OF 45159.35 OF DEBT.
I may be renaming it in the near future. The style of this post is more raw from the heart vs my standard super logical approach. I’m turning 32 in less than 2 weeks.

32

What thoughts are associated with 32?
Reflection for one. Relationships, loved ones lost at an early age. Completion of High School, each of my three college degrees, the incredible amount of progress I’ve made over the years with my personal fitness. Moving 1500 miles away to Dallas without a clue of fully knowing what to expect. Six months of applying to jobs  in a career where my passion was dead but just did because I that’s what I spent a half decade doing. Surely nothing wrong with that strategy right?+ Struggles with paying back a debilitating amount of Student Loan debt proportional to my income, five figures of interest accruing over the years. Interviews where I had a sinking feeling in my stomach that this job is going to be like torture. An MBA graduate at 24 there I was interviewing for a job paying $36k with no room for advancement and trying to sound jazzed about it. Almost getting a job paying over $50k a year only to have the HR people tell me they weren’t hiring for the next 3 months.

Then…. I reached a tipping point. NO LONGER would I let debt paralyze me. I’m intelligent,  maybe limited at times anxiety and overanalyzing situations where people are busy or don’t connect with me…. but…. Other people my age have been able to get out of debt. A long time watcher of the Suze Orman show since the early 2000s I saw their stories each week along with people who had a much deeper hole to get out of. I only had $47k of student loan debt. Some people have six figures and work as a barista at Starbucks. One guy on Suze’s show went to school to become a pilot. Things didn’t work out and he had $200k of debt making less than $20 per hour.

What advice would I give to myself? Move. GTFO Long Island. Too expensive to live, staying with your parents because you can’t afford to be on your own is not good for your emotional and mental health. Being in place where your neighbors stare at you 60% of the time going in and out of the house is crazy. Having shootings just a mile away from where you live and gas stations robbed at gunpoint is crazy. Seeing your folks pay $9k/yr in taxes on each of two houses each year is crazy. The amount of stress most people have and all the gang activity is crazy. DON’T be status quo. DON’T get stuck working that job you only took as a temporary measure. DON’T be the 30 year old guy who works at the video store and still lives with mom and dad because they never strived for anything else in life.

As far as things TO DO. DO invest in yourself both mind and body. DO make friends of the caliber you think will enhance your life not take away from it. DO invest at an EARLY AGE. DO be a contrarian and value investor, the media uses people as pawns in ways, when the stock market is tanking that’s the best time to invest (I would’ve doubled my money if I followed this advice). DO diversify and avoid expensive fees from financial advisors. DO listen to people smarter than you who have turned their lives around.

Last but not least…. 32 is still really young. I was chatting with someone on a dating app who is… Wait for it…. 57 years of age. Great guy, in awesome shape, established and very handsome. Just practically a guy who is probably going to retire in the next 5 years vs me having 30 left. If he was in his 40s sure but technically he is older than my mom and almost as old as my dad were he still living.

Ric Edelman has predicted many of us who are alive now will live to over 140 year due to advances in science and medicine. I don’t know about that but even if we shift closer to 100… Still a long time.
My main message to my readers / friends who read this is….

Embrace life. Don’t get stuck so much in thoughts that you forget to enjoy all the wonderful experiences out there. Many things are temporary in life including debt. Keep calm, smile, enjoy being single or with that special man or woman in your life. Be happy for who and what you are.

That’s all I got for now. Happy Sunday! 🙂

Staying the Course – A Tale of Money & Things

When I bought my car, I pulled a Bruce Hornsby, said to myself..There are Gonna Be Some Changes made. For anyone born after 1990, here’s the video.

So some of the changes:

  • Only ate out once this week, lunch and dinner included. Went out with a friend, spent $10.82 for dinner. Feel healthier since I eat salad at least once a day and have a ton less guilt. Do need to go food shopping soon though. Savings: Lunch – $40/wk Dinner – $80/week (some weeks it’s more but being conservative)  = $480/mo combined. Still leaving room to eat out on weekends, or go out occasionally and be frugal. 
  • Using Toll Road sparingly. I use a combination of the George Bush Tollway and Dallas North Tollway to get to work in the morning. It it $1.25 each way, I typically only take it to work in the morning and take the side roads back. Due to less overall traffic I end up losing less than 5 minutes commute time. Savings = 6.25/wk $25/mo
  • Strongly considering getting rid of one of the DVRs. There are 2 of us and 3 tvs. The tv in one of my rooms is only used about once a month. My Chromecast or computer can be used to watch video on it. Savings = $8/mo
  • Spotify – It’s $10/mo and causes me to go over the 5Gb of ‘unlimited’ data usage on my phone every single month without exception. XM Radio subscription in car is good for 3 months. I could sign up online but have read horrible things about SiriusXM’s customer service. It is integrated with my car’s stereo, but not sure I’d rather stream or do FM radio..
  • Cancelled Apple Developer Membership. I’d love to be a developer, but I lack the free time to reach the level of knowledge required to become one. There are also plenty of free courses online that I can use to get familiar with the basics, then reassess. Savings = $99/yr 8.25/mo.

All in all that’s about $530 in savings. Just need to make these changes now, less deliberation, more doing. That’s the Home Depot way. Ok I swear I haven’t lost it..

Talked to my friend who bought a fancy coupe recently. I was literally blown away by what he told me. His car gets 20mpg and his drive to and back from work is 30 miles each way plus an additional 250 miles a week in personal travel. So about 100/wk in gas He pays $100/mo in tolls, car payment is $600/mo. Total overhead (insurance, gas, tolls, car note) for his car is $1600/mo, not including depreciation or maintenance. Already in 3 months he put 10k in mileage on a brand new car.  He tried to trade it in upon realizing what a huge financial mistake he made but would only get half of what it was sold for. I couldn’t offer much words of wisdom and it wasn’t the right time / place for I told you so.

Moral of the story is sometimes people have fancy things but a whole lot of stress to keep those things. I could’ve made a similar decision to get a fancy sports car that wasn’t great on gas and not so practical for carrying passengers. Also my new car purchase didn’t boost my overhead much. Insurance went up $5 for 6 months and my payment is under 10% of my net income.

Suze Orman was right: People First, Then Money, Then Things, Now You Stay Safe. People meaning yourself because at the end of the day you are your biggest supporter or biggest enemy to financial security.

Month 26 Update – $30,610.82

 

 

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Broke the $31k barrier. This marks about a third of my original balance which included credit cards and student loans. Hate interest too if you haven’t figured that one out. Over $100 each month of what I pay is taking away from the principal payment…

Wasn’t able to pay as much this month as usual due to a series of different bills. Went to a wedding last month in Tampa. Had an great time staying in St. Petersburg. Great restaurants, perfect weather, hotel was mostly nice. The A/C died the last night we were there and the water pressure in the shower was lacking. Rented a Kia Optima car from Budget. Not a car I would recommend. Throttle very jumpy and handling not very good. It was 109.63 total for 3 days courtesy of my Costco discount and some coupons.  My roundtrip flight and hotel were 667.29 which I incurred in March.

Recently found out that as of August my employer will match my 401k contributions up to 6% of my income. There is some 2% retirement plan investment thing I think I’m enrolled in automatically but haven’t looked at that yet. So I have over $2900 in my 401k and up to $200 in my Roth.

So onto the picture below. Plumbing issues again in the house. The root cause I believe is due to someone flushing down a wipe in the toilet. Last time we had this issue I needed to call a plumber and pay close to $300 for the emergency visit. I hate spending money for no reason so I looked up a video on YouTube how to do it and drove down to my nearby Home Depot. The guy there was very helpful in explaining how to use the machine. After a few mosquito bites and lots of sweat in 90° F weather everything was done. Water flowing, toilet draining and only $50 out of pocket.

 

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After looking at some homes (just past the 2 year anniversary in ours), we decided not to pursue further. Seems like a whole lot of work for a place we aren’t super passionate about moving. Higher taxes, more commute time, less sq footage, difficulties in parking, having to cancel contracts and all that jazz.

Going on a cruise soon, my very first one. Looking forward to the experience. I need a vacation from my vacations. It’s usually been going somewhere for someone else (weddings, family, etc), but less so for us as a couple.

Dealing with Successful People

I’ve encountered or had communications with some highly successful people in the last 15 years.

  1. Worked for a high profile Internet broadcaster in the late 90s as part of a startup reviewing software which I got to keep but not actually keeping an income. Rights to the name / company were sold for an undisclosed amount off the record (though I believe it to be in excess of $1mil) during the dot.com bubble.
  2. Friends with an engineer at Google who has been there for 7 years. I’m sure he makes over 100k / year.
  3. Friends with another engineer at a well-known international company who is an engineer as well making over 100k/yr.
  4. Worked for a multi-million dollar CEO who presided on the BOD for one of the most well known mobile device companies in the world. Along with him, I worked briefly with the founders of a company that was later purchased by Oracle for an undisclosed amount.
  5. My bf does pretty well, though he has been in the same industry for over 12 years at this point.
  6. I’m friends with the CTO of a big nationally recognized company in Houston. He registered a domain name in the 90s and sold it to a pretty popular music company and got $30k for nothing basically. Also online friends with the CEO of that company.

As the saying goes ‘Your 5 Closest Friends Determine Your Income‘. I’m not sure how much truth there is to that statement. The five closest friends I have in NY:

1. Is in IT makes over 100k/yr.
2. Works at McDonalds as a manager making $9/hr.
3. Works at a cable company making high 30s/yr.
4. Runs his own business is making around 60k/yr pretax.
5. Moved far far away to China, then California to run his own business.

So the real question is what do I need to change in my life to get success closer to what they’ve been able to experience. What strategies would help me get there? I’m back to doing the IT training videos after a hiatus / spell of laziness. On module 1.7 – Connectors and have quite a bunch more to go. Reaching goals can be a bitch sometimes… Or is it? It’s 11:45PM my time. Better go to bed so I’m not a zombie in the morning.

Tolls

Toll Roads in Dallas.  They chop the length of your commute down by half or more.  The benefits are less gas consumption, feeling happier on one’s way to work and getting to locations on time.  The way lights are timed, you wait a good 3 minutes sometimes before it changes from red to green, a good 10 set of lights to potentially hit.

I have ‘ve paid some occasional thought to how much money I spend on the toll roads in Dallas.   The primary advantage of the tollroad is a much quicker commute.  Typical day I take the tollroad to work and side streets home.  That’s 1.18 a day time 5 days x 4 on average or 23.60 a month.  On top of that I can spend an additional 3-5/wk on tolls each week.  So $20 extra is a 43.60/mo.  I hate to wait, but I also hate to burn money when I don’t have to.  I’m thinking I could plan ahead and leave the house an extra 15 min earlier and save, but I’m not sure I’m that cheap. 😛

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